Women in Wine : Its Wine O’clock with Siwela
Siwela Masoga is a trained Biotechnologist, Founder of Siwela Wine, wine lover, entrepreneur and visionary.
Siwela is a woman on a mission. Her philosophy to wine and life is “ if we don’t follow our passion, there is no value in our existence”.
Lets find out more about the brand and the lady behind the brand.
1. For my readers, could you give me a brief description of what is a Wine Biotechnologist ?
Wine biotechnology is the study of grapes, microorganisms such as yeasts applied to wine making in order to develop solutions for the challenges experienced within the grape growing and wine making sector.
2. What drew you to a career as Biotechnologist and where did you develop your love for wine?
My interest in wine began during my days at Cape University of Technology as a student, on my second year I began to major in fermentation and microbiology. I believe that these are the fundamentals of wine making. As it is often said that Biotechnology is the earliest form of wine making. I found the subject and processes interesting. Our focus was primarily the study of microorganisms, the likes of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae which is the yeast strain responsible for fermentation in wine. We focused more on the kinetics of wine making, growth rates of these microorganisms and factors to be considered for a successful fermentation. This is technically the science behind wine making, I felt that this is something I could perhaps do within my career. For the first time I had an idea what I wanted to do. I come from a small village in Limpopo, and I had never met anyone from where I come from in the space of wine. This makes it much more impossible for girls like me to even begin of dreaming to be wine makers and be active role players within the space. I thought perhaps I could be amongst the very first few to venture into wine, and indeed I did.
3. Where/ What did you study to become a Wine Biotechnologist?
I studied biotechnology at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, furthered continued with various short courses from Cape Wine Academy and Stellenbosch university (Garagiste wine making).
4. What do you like the most about your chosen career path as a Biotechnologist and then founder of your own wine company?
Wine is my passion; it is the only field I know. This makes my Job much more rewarding as I do what I love, it never feels like a day at work. The wine industry is challenging, and I believe this makes it more exciting. Biotechnology is broad, this also makes it an interesting field to be in.
5. In a male dominated industry what has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge and I believe will always be for anyone entering the industry is access to market. The wine industry despite being male dominated is highly competitive, everyday there are new brands coming into the market and less people consuming wine as most would rather enjoy the other beverages such as ciders, spirits and beer.
6. What advice do you have for young women who want to pursue a career in wine?
I think the wine industry is a great place to be for women as the focus is now around empowering women. We can see more women coming into the space, all it requires is a lot of dedication, hard work and most importantly passion for wine.
7. Have you noticed any trends emerging in the wine industry that you would like to mention? (canned wine, recyclable packaging etc)
Yes, I believe canned wine is one of the trends that are worth putting a thought on, it is also about time the wine industry opens to new things and offer customers something more convenient. It will boost the sales of wine locally.
8. Is there a particular Vintage or a wine that you are immensely proud of?
The Siwela Red Blend is exquisite, quite the best seller within the range. It is a simple fruity, unwooded blend but most people seem to enjoy it.
9. Tell me more about the Siwela wine academy. Why did you decide to start offering wine courses?
I believe wine education will have a significant impact on the consumer, once one has a better understanding for wine, they began to appreciate it even more. Siwela Wine academy is focusing on informal wine education, this is accessible to anyone interested in learning about wine.
Find out more about the Siwela Wine Academy Here: siwelawines.co.za/siwela-wine-academy/
10. South Africa has a rich wine heritage. Which wine pops to mind when we talk about a proudly South African wine?
I am a huge fan of Zonnebloem wines, Zonnebloem Pinotage is what comes to my mind .
11. What is your most memorable moment as the owner of your own wine label/ company?
The most memorable is the weekend at the Stellenbosch wine festival 2019, this festival was an eye opener for me as I have witnessed the amount of support South Africans have towards female wine makers. I saw people chanting, excited to try my wines such that we sold out on the stock allocated for the event . This made me so proud to be behind the brand, I never imagined that my brand would have so much impact .
12. Heritage day is coming up. What food and wine pairing will you be doing?
I had fish braai with friends paired with the Siwela Chenin Blanc , great wine to enjoy over any summer day .
About Siwela Wines:
Siwela wine Pty Ltd is a proudly south African, female black owned wine company.
They strive to produce unique and accessible wines with consistent quality. Each of the wines in the Siwela range represents their identity and heritage. Siwela aims to inspire young people to have an active role in the South African wine industry.
Siwela is an indigenous name which means “Crossing Over” in IsiZulu.
In a male dominated industry Siwlea is making waves. Her story is inspirational.
Visit Siwela wine and find out more : https://siwelawines.co.za/